Deep Sea Creature or... Alien Spaceship?
Recently I came across a really mind blowing video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBARI) that is definitely worth a share:
The stunning alien spacesh...errmmm.... creature you just witnessed is scientifically described as Lampocteis cruentiventer. Commonly known as the "bloodybelly comb jelly", it is the only representative in the genus Lampocteis, from the family Lampoctenidae. The name Lampoctenidae originates from the greek word λαμπερός which means "shining”, and "κτένα" for “comb” which to quote the scientists who first described L. cruentiventer refers to the "bright iridescence of the comb rows caused by diffraction of light through the broad comb plates." .
Now, if you are anything like me, you probably have many questions about this weird jelly. Unfortunately, there has been only a handful of specimens researchers have ever caught and the published literature isn't of much help. Simply put, we know very little about it!
It was first discovered in 1979 off southern California by the deep-ocean research submersible DSRV Alvin and since then very ew specimens have been collected from 1991 to 1999, all of them again by the researchers at MBARI. These jellies come in colours that vary from deep red, purple, or black to pale purple and feature an always bloody-red stomach, hence why we call them "bloodybelly comb jellies".
The species appears to occupy waters ranging from 700 to 1,000 meters deep and all collected specimens were about 1.5 cm long and 1.2 to 10 cm in width.
According to the scientists from MBARI, the stomach might be red because it "helps mask bioluminescent light from the prey it swallows. A predator with a glowing gut could easily become prey.", which makes sense since considering lots of small animals are bioluminescent in the deep blue where this jelly occurs!
Fun Fact: Despite its common name and appearance, the bloodybelly comb jelly isn't actually a true....jelly! Jellyfish are from the phylum Cnidaria while L. cruentiventer belongs to the Ctenophora. And no, it doesn't sting so if you are ever lucky enough to see one in person you can touch with no fear! Just be gentle. These are delicate creatures!
And that's pretty much all we know about this amazing sea animal! You can click the various links inside this post if you want to learn some more boring details but I think I have covered all the basics.
By the way, if you enjoyed the video in the introduction then I am sure you will enjoy the videos below, again from MBARI. They might be different species but they belong to the same phylum (Ctenophora) that the bloodybelly comb jelly does. And yeah, they look like tiny alienspaceships too!